“I regard them as prostitutes, not colleagues. Let me make myself clear. Does an author respect a ghost writer? Would you respect a painter who allowed another man to sign his work — for money? Possible the spirit of the artist is foreign to you, sir, yet perhaps I may put it in terms germane to your own profession.”
Lawrence Smith, also known as Lorenzo Smythe –The Great Lorenzo!– is a very proud actor, and one of the best know in the Empire. He is asked to act in an interesting and well payed job, though details are lacking and gets tangled with his contractors/captors into acting on this important role. Smythe must impersonate an important politician who has been kidnapped.
Narrated in the first person, I was delighted to read the character development Smythe endured along the slender yet captivating novel. Heinlein has an avid nature to capture the essence of the moment, to elonquently describe a setting with few, precise words and make of it a master-piece. I enjoyed every page, turning them as the action developed and Lorenzo slowly changed, and changed, and became… a mature individual who never thought he could find profoundity in the “nasty” game of politics.
“Politics isn’t a dirty game. But there are dirty players.”
The Great Lorenzo, as he is known, is dramatically affected by the memory of his father, something that shows as the story develops, a trait you see even in the final stages of the plot.
“Before my revered father died he made me promise him three things: first, never to mix whisky with anything but water; second, always to ignore anonymous letters; and lastly, never to talk with a stranger who refuses to give his name.”
As you arrive to the final portions of the book and you realize that it will soon finish, you can’t quite picture who the book will end. But it ends with such delicacy, such intimate and well captured moments that the story is rendered from grand to epic. The way this book was finished is astonishing, with emotions that linger and reside with the long lasting tones of a great read. This is by far science fiction at its best.